Meet the Riders‏: Get to Know More About a Few of the Contenders for the ASPCA Maclay Final Championship

By Brenda Mueller for Chicago Equestrian


This article sponsored by Northern Pines Farm and Melissa Hirt.

Chicago, IL – October 7, 2015 – USEF/Pessoa Medal riders from Zone 5 and ASPCA Maclay finalists from Region 4 have worked all season to get to the National Medal Finals, which take place this month. The Pennsylvania National Horse Show hosts the USEF/Pessoa Medal Finals on October 11th and the ASPCA/Maclay Finals take place at the CP National Horse Show October 31-November 1st in Lexington, KY.

The Medal and Maclay Finals are two of the most prestigious events junior riders can compete in, opening doors for their careers and leaving their names as a part of the history of the industry.  A look back at the list of past winners includes Olympians and U.S. team riders as well as top National trainers. Getting on this list is a dream of many junior riders across the country.

Meet some of the area riders vying for a spot on the coveted list of finalists so you can cheer them on as the home-team. The CP National Horse Show can be viewed live on with live commentary by the legendary George H. Morris, a past winner of both medals at the age of 14, and Diane Carney, USEF R HU/EQ/JP judge. will also broadcast the Medal from the Pennsylvania National Horse Show.

Here are some of the riders competing and what they have to say about the finals:

Jordan Allen

Age: 14           Hometown: West Bloomfield, MI
Sophomore at Detroit Country Day School
Horse: Cartier, 6-year-old Westphalian
Trainer: Kim Carey, Huntington Ridge Farm
Qualified for Medal and Maclay
Second time competing at Finals

“It means so much to go to the finals.  It is a great experience and an opportunity to compete with the best riders.  It’s a chance to really challenge myself.


Jordan Allen an Cartier.

Cartier and I make a great team.  He is so young, so we learn a lot of things together.  He always does what I ask of him.  It’s been a lot of fun working with a young horse.

To prepare we have been working on collecting and extending.  I have been working to improve my position.

I would like to ride to the best of my ability.  I would like to stay focused and make it a good first experience for my horse.”

Louisa Brackett

Age:16          Hometown: Grayslake, IL
Junior at Carmel Catholic High School
Horse:  King Bee, 10-year-old, Holsteiner
Trainer: Mary Goldman/Lisa Goldman – Red Coat Farm
Qualified for Medal, On Wait list for Maclay
Second year competing at Finals

“It is such an honor to be able to ride at these finals because of the deep history in them. It’s a wonderful feeling because it is an accumulation of all your year’s efforts. It’s one of the few types of shows that it’s just an accomplishment that you’re there.

I would describe my horse and me as quite the dynamic pair. My horse is the sweetest horse you could possibly ask for. He is one of the few horses that loves hugs as much as treats. Whenever I’m on him, I know that he will always give me his all and I never have to be nervous on him, therefore, I feel the most confident on him.


Louisa Brackett and King Bee. 

I have been preparing for the finals by taking lessons without stirrups, jumping different horses, and showing a lot. In addition, I have been made sure to watch great riders’ rounds at horse shows when I can.

I would like to feel challenged and feel as though I got the job done in the best way that my horse and I could present.”

Celia Bresch

Age: 14           Hometown: Barrington, IL
Freshman at Barrington High School
Horse: Le Blanc, Aged Warmblood
Trainer: Kim Gardiner and Mara Kraz-Olseng, Perfecta Farm
Qualified Medal and Maclay
First time competing in finals

“Going to the finals is proof that all my hard work paid off.


Celia Bresch pictured here on Romeo.

My horse for the finals, LeBlanc, is new so we are just figuring each other out.

We’ve been doing lots of tough equitation lessons focusing on the important details.

I mostly want to just gain confidence and experience.”

Allie Donaldson

Age: 17        Hometown:  Deer Park, IL
Freshman at Hope College in Holland, MI
Horse: Hemingway a.k.a Moose, 12-year-old Warmblood gelding
Trainer: Erin Hirsch
Qualified for Medal
First year competing at Finals

“Qualifying for medal finals this year is an absolutely surreal experience. I only started doing the 3’6 equitation in May so being able to qualify is a big deal to me. This is also my last junior year so being able to qualify and attend medal finals in my first and last year in the equitation is an amazing feeling.

I have only known my horse Moose since May, however I think we get along wonderfully. He is absolutely perfect, he will jump anything you point him at and never questions anything I ask of him. He knows how to take care of me and to make sure we are always safe. I’m so lucky to be able to ride him for my first year in the equitation.


Allie Donaldson and Hemingway. Photo Andrew Ryback

To prepare for medal finals my trainer and I have been working a lot on downward transitions, lengthening/shortening, and working on getting my horse coming back to me and staying underneath me better.  We’ve also been doing a lot of practice medal tests to sharpen my skills and make sure I am prepared for anything that may be asked of us at indoors.

This year at medal finals I would love to have a nice, solid, positive round. I’m not expecting perfection because this is my first year but I would just love a smooth round and to be able to leave with a positive experience for me and my horse.

Emma Lena Green

17           Hometown: Carmel, IN
Senior at Indiana University Online High School
Hennessy, 8-year-old, Oldenburg
 Tammy Provost and Wendy Hofmeister
Qualified for Medal
Second time competing in the Medal Finals -also showing in the Large Older Juniors at Pennsylvania National and the National Horse Show!

“It is so exciting to get to go to finals! It has been a dream of mine to do the 3’6” equitation since I was about eight so it feels unreal that it is actually happening!

Riding is more than a sport; it’s completely about your partnership with your horse. You are putting all of your trust in them and they have to put all of theirs back into you. If your trust isn’t strong on both ends of the partnership, there is no way that you are going to be able to jump around at finals. Chip and I make a good team, we rely on each other a lot; when he has a moment that he needs me I’m there for him, and if I need him he always steps right up. The partnership is even more exciting than getting to go to finals and nothing will ever change that.

To prepare, we have tried to show in classes that will have a similar atmosphere like International Derbies, the Showplace Equitation Championship and Zone 5 Finals.


Emma Lena Green and Hennessy. Photo Andrew Ryback

All I could ever ask for is for us to both have a positive experience since it will be his first time at indoors. I just want it to be good miles for him.”

GIa Gulino

Age: 16           Hometown: Saint John, IN
Senior Laurel Springs online school
Horse: Capello, 7-year-old Dutch Warmblood
Trainer: Tina Judge-Boyle – Judgement Farm
Qualified for Medal and Maclay
Second year competing in the Maclay, First year for Medal

“It means the world to me to be able to go to both the Maclay and the USEF Medal Finals. Last year I made it into the Maclay Finals off the wait list one week before the show, so making the jump from there to 13th at the Regionals was amazing.

I’ve had lunge line lessons, sometimes twice a day without reins and stirrups, to strengthen my core and balance. Tina (Judge-Boyle) even went out and bought some new jumps that will be like the jumps Cappello will have to jump in the finals.


Gia Gulino and Cappello. Photo Shawn McMillen

My horse is still young and he is so much better and more mature than he was last year. I just think it’s so special that he and I have grown up together in the medal and the hunter rings.  We get to do so many things together for the first time like the National Horse Show and Devon. He’s really quite special and does anything I ask of him. We are partners for sure.  I know his strengths and weaknesses and he knows mine. He never lets me down no matter where we go.

I’d like to thank my parents; they have really gone above and beyond this year to help be prepared.  Second, I’d like to thank Tina (Judge-Boyle) and the Judgement Farm family. I couldn’t be more proud to represent them all.”

Rebecca Kozma

Age: 17           Hometown: Streamwood, IL
Senior at Streamwood High School
Horse: Finn 7-year-old Danish Warmblood
Trainer: Kim Gardiner and Mara Kranz-Olseng – Perfecta Farm
Qualified for Medal and Maclay
First time competing in finals

“To me, going to medals finals means that all my hard work over the year has paid off. Granted I was done qualifying for both medals the first weekend in February but I have kept working towards getting to finals throughout the summer. Going to medal finals is an amazing opportunity, because it means that I can ride at a national level and experience what it is like to ride with the best junior riders in the nation.

Finn and I have been showing together for three year now. He has been my equitation horse for all the Maclay regionals that I have participated in. Finn understands what I expect from him when we walk into the ring, and together we answer the questions presented by the course.


Rebecca Kozma and Finn. Photo Andrew Ryback

To prepare I have been riding a lot of different horses in addition to Finn. I have been practicing courses with lines that ride forward and collected, similar to the first line in the Maclay regional.

During the finals this year I hope to be smooth overall as well as be accurate with my eye throughout the whole course.

I would like to thank Kim (Gardiner) for letting me ride Finn the past couple years, and for all her help, because without her there is no way I would be where I am today. I would also like to thank my parents for working hard to make sure that my dreams stay alive and for pushing me to do my best. I would like to thank Zach Fredenberg for helping me keep my grades up when I miss school; also for teaching me that life may not always go the way we want it, but it is about making the most of the opportunities that it presents us with. Also I would like to thank my friends for supporting me through everything. This past year has been the best one yet and it would not have been possible without the opportunities and support from everyone.”

Olivia Lawton

Age: 17                       Hometown: Burr Ridge, IL
Senior at Hinsdale Central High School
Horse: Cris van de Helle, 9-year-old Holsteiner gelding
Trainer: Lynn Jayne – Our Day Farm
Qualified for Medal and Maclay
Second year competing in the Medal, First year in Maclay

“These finals represent the hard work and determination that I, my horses, trainers, and parents have put into the past couple years. They are bittersweet because they are my final destinations of my junior career.

Cris and I have grown together the past two years, so we really understand each other. When I’m not feeling confident in myself, he helps me look like I am. His stride is super adjustable and he gives his all over every jump.


Olivia Lawton and Cris van de Helle.  Photo Flying Horse Photography

I’ve been jumping more complicated courses at home while focusing on my seat over-fences. We’ve also been doing some no-stirrup work and other flatwork to help me manipulate and control the horse’s body.

I hope to have solid rounds that I can look back on and be proud of. I want them to reflect what I have been working on this year with no major mistakes.

I also want to thank Lynn (Jayne) and my parents for making my dreams come true! I can’t wait to see what the future holds!”

Paige Matthies

Age: 14           Hometown: Lake Leelanau, MI
9th Grade at Laurel Springs Online School
Horse:  Icarus, 17, Dutch Warmblood
Trainer: Melissa Hirt and Cody Weverstad at Northern Pines Farm
Qualified for Medal and Maclay
Third year going to the Medal Finals and did Maclay finals in 2013

“I’m very excited to experience the atmosphere and challenges at finals because it’s such a unique experience. The courses always ask very interesting questions, and really make you think as a rider. I’m proud to be included in such an amazing group of riders.

Icarus and I work very well together. He’s very responsive to my leg, and he has a pace and rhythm that I really enjoy working with. I would say we compliment each other’s strengths and weaknesses very well.


Paige Matthies and Icarus. 

I have been working on flatwork and riding difficult courses as preparation and I attended the George Morris riding clinic in Michigan. I’ve also been lessoning on several different horses and working on my health and fitness with Pilates and healthy eating.

During the finals, my primary goal will be to have a solid round and be happy with how my horse and I went together.”

Madison Mitchell

Age: 12           Hometown: Clarkston, MI
8th grader at Clarkston Junior High
Horse: Gentlemen – 9-year-old  Belgian Warmblood
Trainer: Heather Irvine, Tammy Nimbach and Kelsey Wickham
Qualified for Medal and Maclay
First time competing at Finals

“Qualifying from this was very exciting for me because of how hard I have worked to get here at such a young age.

I have only had my horse since March so we are still getting used to one another, but if I had to describe us I would say trust and friendship because I spend a lot of time with him, I know that we have a special bond that only certain people have with their horse and this makes trust.


Madison Mitchell and Gentlemen. Photo Diana Hadsall Photography

To prepare I have been doing a lot of flat lessons and working without my stirrups. I have also been working on my position a lot.

During the finals I would like to have a good first experience and just to get around. To me, getting to be there is enough.”

Alexandra Pielet

Age: 14           Hometown: Highland Park, IL
Freshman Highland Park High School
Horse: Trading Aces, 11 years old
Trainer: Walter Kees
Qualified for both Medal and Maclay
First time competing at Finals

“I am excited that all my hard work this year allowed me to qualify for Medal Finals and make it through regionals to attend the Maclay Finals.

We (My horse and I) have only been together since April, but have gotten to know each other well.  I would say the most important thing is that we work together – he is very opinionated and usually his opinions are right!!  Trading Aces was Boyd Martins  4 star eventing horse until we purchased him in April.  He is an extremely talented horse that is learning a new discipline – equitation.  It has been fun learning together and learning to respect his extreme talent!!


Alexandra Pielet and Trading Aces. 

I have been working on a lot of flat work, no stirrup work and practicing over courses at home.

I would like to have solid rounds that my trainer and I are happy with.”

Annalise Reed

Age: 15          Hometown: Grosse Pointe, MI
Sophomore at Grosse Pointe South
Horse: Commendable, 7-year-old Danish Warmblood
Trainer: Andrew Farless – Ravenwood Farm
Qualified for Maclay
First year competing at Finals

“Being qualified for the Maclay Finals is a huge accomplishment for me and I’m so happy with how far my horse and I have come during our 1st year together.


Annalise Reed and Commendable. Photo Emmy Reed

To prepare for finals, my trainer has been building “finals-like” courses, and we hung some posters along the walls to get the horses used to them.

I just want to have a good, fun experience at finals!”

Giavanna Rinaldi

Age: 16           Hometown: Chicago, IL
Junior at University of Nebraska online high school
Horse: Cayambe, 9, Holsteiner
Trainer:  Haylie Jayne-Rolfe
Qualified for Medal and Maclay, Placed 4th in the Region 4 regionals
First year competing in Medal Finals

“It means a lot to me to go to finals because I’ve been working towards this all year and have been preparing for a while now.

Our partnership with Cayambe has grown immensely since the winter circuit. Over the summer we started to really click and we’ve had some great rounds together.


Giavanni Rinaldi and Cayambe. Photo Andrew Ryback

I have been doing flat lessons and some courses at home to prepare for finals. Also, some work on tests to get ready for that.

I would really like to have a solid round and get a good ribbon at finals.”

Andria Talavera

Age: 17          Hometown: Schererville, IN
Senior at Lake Central High School St. John, IN
Horse:  Satchmo, 13-year-old Westphalian.
Trainer: Kim Gardiner and Mara Kranz-Olseng of Perfecta Farm
Qualified for Medal and Maclay
First year competing in Finals

“It means so much to be able to participate at such prestigious horse shows. I have worked so hard to become a better rider and horsewoman. Being able to qualify is just as rewarding as winning to me. It gives me a huge boost of confidence knowing that I am able to achieve my goals through hard work and dedication.

Satchmo is a very kind and forgiving horse. He helps me out when I need him and I do the same for him. We are actually a lot alike because he’s new to the equitation ring and so am I.


Andria Talavera and Satchmo. Photo Andrew Ryback

We’ve been doing a lot of flat lessons, no stirrups, and jumping courses that mimic the ones at finals we’ll be seeing.

I would like to accomplish a solid round that I can be proud of. This is my first year and I want it to be a positive experience.”

Lizzie van der Walde

Age:18            Hometown: Ann Arbor, MI
Freshman at University of South Carolina
Horse: Freedom 15-year-old Westphalian
Trainer: Aaron Vale
Qualified for Medal and Maclay
Fourth time competing in Finals

“Getting to go to finals is always a great privilege and opportunity for me. Working towards something all year and accomplishing a goal is always a great feeling!

My horse and I get along very well. I have only been riding him since the end of May but we have figured each other out very quickly. He can be a little quirky at times, but I have learned how to work with him!


Lizzie van der Walde and Freedom. Photo Shawn McMillen

I ride on the equestrian team at my school so I have been working during practice not only to prepare for our meets but also for finals. My coaches have been really great about helping me to get ready!

I made it to the second round of Medal finals and the flat of Maclay finals, so I would like to place at one of the finals this year!”

Best wishes to all competiters!  Like us on Facebook to keep tabs on Indoors.

Sponsored by:

Northern Pines Farm

7347 S Stachnik Rd, Maple City, MI 49664
(231) 228-5550

Northern Pines Farm is a private hunter/jumper facility located in Maple City, Michigan dedicated to excellence in the training of horse and rider.